Microsoft's current CEO Steve Ballmer has had his share of knocks from the media and financial analysts for his role in leading the company. However, in Microsoft's 2011 proxy statement that it filed today with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the company's own assessment of Ballmer is that he isn't paid enough for what he does. Part of the reason for that decision is that Ballmer has elected not to participate in Microsoft's equity compensation plan.
According to the proxy statement;
"His award under the Incentive Plan is payable entirely in cash, and is correspondingly smaller than those made to the other Named Executive Officers. As the principal leader of Microsoft, Mr. Ballmer focuses on building our long-term success, and, as a significant shareholder, his personal wealth is tied directly to Microsoft’s value. While the Committee and the Board believe Mr. Ballmer is underpaid for his role and performance, they have accepted his request."
The statement also went on to say that Ballmer's base salary as CEO of Microsoft is $682,500 a year, with a cash bonus of $1,365,000, giving him an annual cash total of $2,047,000. Microsoft estimates that Ballmer's peers receive a base salary of $1,400,00 a year along with a cash bonus of $4,500,000. Ballmer was named as CEO of Microsoft back in 2000, but became the sole leader in 2008 after Microsoft chairman Bill Gates decided to no longer work at the company on day-to-day business activities.
Ballmer's leadership at the company has come under criticism due to the fact that Microsoft's stock price has dropped over the past decade. Recently IBM's market value went past Microsoft's for the first time since 1996.